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Polls: Spitzer, Weiner both in top spot in redemption bids

Polls: Spitzer, Weiner both in top spot in redemption bids
Jose Santos/CNN
Monday, July 15, 2013 - 6:49pm

(CNN) -- With less than two months to go until primary day in New York City, a new poll indicates that two candidates hoping to come back from scandals that sidetracked their political careers are both edging out their opponents.

According to a Quinnipiac University poll released Monday, former New York state Gov. Eliot Spitzer leads Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer 48%-33% in the Democratic primary race for New York City comptroller, the city's chief budget officer. Spitzer, who resigned as governor in 2008 after revelations he spent thousands of dollars on prostitutes, jumped into the comptroller race just over a week ago.

And the poll indicates that former Rep. Anthony Weiner has the backing of 25% of likely New York City Democratic primary voters, three points ahead of City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, the former frontrunner. Former Comptroller William Thompson is at 11%, Public Advocate Bill de Blasio is at 10%, with everyone else in single digits.

Weiner's three point margin is within the survey's sampling error. Weiner announced his mayoral bid in May. He was in his seventh term in Congress representing parts of the New York City boroughs of Queens and Brooklyn when he resigned from the House in 2011 amid scandal over lewd photos sent via Twitter.

"Notoriety has earned the 'Tabloid Twins,' former Gov. Eliot Spitzer as Client 9 and former Congressman Anthony (Tweets) Weiner, good initial numbers in the polls," said Maurice Carroll, director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute. "Whether those numbers hold up in the real poll on Primary Election Day is the big question."

The Quinnipiac survey is the second poll conducted since Spitzer announced his bid to indicate him in the lead. An NBC 4/Wall Street Journal/Marist poll released last week indicated Spitzer ahead of Stringer 42%-33% among registered Democrats in the September 10 primary.

In a city where registered Democrats greatly outnumber registered Republicans, the winners of the Democratic primary will be considered the frontrunners in November general election.

According to the Quinnipiac poll, strong support among black voters is helping both Spitzer and Weiner. Spitzer leads Stringer 61%-26% among black voters. In the mayoral primary battle, Weiner has the backing of 31% of black voters, far ahead of Quinn at 16%, with Thompson, the only major black candidate in the mayoral field, at 14%.

As for gender, men back Spitzer 53%-33% while women support him by a smaller 44%-32% margin. Weiner tops Quinn 29%-21% among men but narrowly trails 23%-21% among women.

To the probable disadvantage of the other candidates, Weiner and Spitzer have dominated the news coverage of the mayoral and comptroller races, thanks to their scandals and their bids for political second chances.

"Is it better to be well-known mainly for a scandal than to be largely unknown?" asks Carroll.

The Quinnipiac University poll was conducted July 8-14, with 738 registered Democrats in New York City questioned by telephone. The survey's sampling error is plus or minus 3.6 percentage points.

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